If you see me slapping myself this Spring, don’t be alarmed. I haven’t gone crazy. In fact I’m doing it to keep my sanity. It means I have probably had a recent rendezvous with my arch-enemy, Ivy – her first name is Poison. We all know rule #1 is do not scratch. We also know that the un-met desire to scratch can be torture.
A good friend of mine turned me on to the slapping thing. After the tip she rose to the rank of very good friend because it really works. I know scratching the poison ivy rash can lead to infection or make it spread further but that’s not why I refrain. I don’t scratch because once I start, I cannot stop.
But slapping really does work. It just goes to show you can stand pain more than prurience. No, that isn’t something dirty. It means being itchy. , lotAt least I think so, hold on and let me check the internet.
Oops I’m wrong. According to the Merriam Webster,it means being prurient and prurient means marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome desire, especially appealing to sexual desire.
That’s not it. What is the word I want?
OK. I’m back again.
The word I want is pruritus : itch, or an unpleasant sensation that provokes the desire to scratch.
That’s it. As I was saying it just goes to show you can stand pain more than pruritis.
Sigh, this isn’t turning out to be the smoothest of blog posts. You see, now I have a dilemma…..
I was planning to show you my itch aids but after my verbal faux pas with prurience, you might think they’re sex aids But what the heck……They’re not. Let’s get on with the show.
As I was saying…….
Even though it’s much too early for poison ivy, I’m still in itch agony. I have the next worst thing – winter dry skin itch.
My shins and back are the areas I yearn to scratch. I can’t reach my back, so it’s safe. But I really have to watch it with my shins. I started scratching once on my bowling league night and stopped only because they kept telling me I had to bowl. By the time the night was over, my legs looked like they’d gone through a shredder.
So it was either cut my nails to the quick or co me up with a solution. And I did:
My legs are so greased after a shower that my socks won’t stay up. Slathering up also works on my back – the areas I can reach.
For the areas I can’t reach:
This works and doesn’t shred my skin. But I keep losing it. Can’t remember which room I left it in.
And then there’s my daily morning fix:
In the interest of full disclosure: the full force of water on an extremely itchy patch of skin produces explosive satisfaction , almost akin to …..no never mind, try it next time you have an itch. You’ll see!
And in case you’re interested….while I was on line I looked up just why we itch. I mean I can understand pain, it prevents us from harming ourselves with fire or sharp objects and warns of illness. Hunger? It keeps us from starving; likewise thirst, from dehydration. They are all protective in nature but why the sensation of itching?
Well I found a nice short easily understandable mini-article in Esquire that explains itch is actually a perception that comes from the brain. When poison ivy touches skin, skin releases a chemical factor that causes inflammation. Then itch receptors or some such thing pass the information to the spinal cord, and the spinal cord passes it to the brain and the brain responds with “okay this is an itch” and instructs the body to respond. And the response? To scratch.
Now why would my brain tell me to scratch? I thought it had more sense than that.
I read on, and find that “all animals have evolved some kind of mechanism to get rid of anything attached to their skin. That’s why the itchy sensation is such an ancient one. We are trying to remove the irritant from our skin.
And the article ends with:
Dr. Scott Moses, a physician who specializes in the treatment of chronic itching, notes, “There are a lot of adverse effects of itching and scratching. The itch is completely harmless when you don’t scratch, but when you scratch, it causes all these different secondary effects that can spiral into more scratching. If you have to respond, don’t scratch — rub.”
If you’d like to read the Esquire article for yourself, here it is
Or if you prefer something more scientific than Esquire, there’s this.